Title: Southern Winterland (By Degrees #0.5) 1st Edition
Author: Taylor V. Donovan
Cover Artist: Deana C. Jamroz
Publisher: MLR Press
Buy Link: SOON
Genre: Contemporary M/M, holiday
Length: short story/33PDF pages
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Review Summary: Remy is more than just curious about his best friend Chris, but when he tries to pursue him Chris seems to be saying “no”. Will they ever come together?
Christian Murphy is out, proud and very often loud. Remy Benoit is an equal opportunity flirt, but he swears guys are not his thing.
Different lifestyles had never interfered with their close friendship, but after too much alcohol and almost kissing under the mistletoe a year ago they’ve started to drift apart. A special holiday event brings the men together, and this time around they might have to acknowledge that mutual admiration and respect are not the only things making them seek each other out.
By Degrees Series
Remy and Chris had been best friends for 3 years but everything changed between them that night 8 months ago when they were standing under the mistletoe and almost kissed. Chris did a disappearing act immediately after and Remy couldn’t get up close and personal to him — it was like trying to catch lightning in a bottle — he was so quick Remy couldn’t pin him down. He made numerous excuses for not visiting and all of the flirting between them was a thing of the past. Remy couldn’t understand what was wrong. After months of being put off with obviously fake excuses he decided to take matters into his own hands and up the ante.
Chris always enjoyed spending time with Remy and couldn’t stay away from him, but after they almost kissed under the mistletoe he knew he could be hurt if he tried to pursue his attraction for Remy to its natural conclusion. He would also lose his straight friend, although recently signs seemed to be pointing to a change in Remy’s orientation as he appeared to be curious and interested in Chris, but Chris wasn’t sure he was reading the signs correctly. Because Remy meant so much to him Chris decided that he was better off staying as far away from him as possible so as not to screw up their relationship. Putting on a Christmas project that they were supposed to work on in person ended up with them phoning each other instead of meeting to go over the details. Chris was elusive every time Remy invited him to visit and he didn’t arrive in Houston until a few days before the big event.
When Chris showed up Remy decided that enough was enough – he was going to find out what was going on. Would his strategy drive Chris away for good?
I thought these two characters were well suited. There was such playfulness between them and they so obviously loved each other that the caring came through even though they weren’t together until the end of the book. The “avoidance” strategy on Chris’s part worked like a charm as it got Remy to make the jump into the unknown, something he probably wouldn’t have done if he wasn’t pushed to the wall.
The way they both strategized to get their way was amusing and entertaining. Chris was supposedly a flamboyant “out” gay man but he was marshmallow when it came to Remy. In many ways they were alike although Remy’s Cajun background was so different to Chris’s New York swagger. Underneath the glitzy exterior Chris was really vulnerable and insecure, and at 32 Remy had never been attracted to another man until Chris, and he had no idea how to handle the strange sexual feelings he was having for his friend. He came up with an unlikely strategy that Chris couldn’t misunderstand.
This was a fun book as the eternal dance of romance between the characters brought their personalities into focus and I found both characters to be engaging and real.
If you’re looking for an enjoyable holiday tale with no angst I would recommend that you pick up Southern Winterland.